Adobe’s New Vision: Away with The Box and Into the Cloud

[Cross-Posted from Beneath the Brand.]

As a sometime graphic designer, I’ve been a loyal user of Adobe products for many years. I’ve followed the company through their branding and packaging changes, from their unveiling of the Creative Suite in 2003 to the acquisition of Macromedia Flash in 2005, to the launching of the Creative Cloud subscription model last year. Now, it seems Adobe has decided to change yet again: they are tossing out the traditional retail box, and are switching to exclusively selling Creative Cloud subscriptions.

The decision to change to a completely subscription-based pricing model is a bold one, to be sure. Many customers enjoyed the Creative Suite and won’t be happy with completely digital software and subscription-based pricing. Adobe has let these customers know that Creative Suite 6 is still available for purchase, albeit without future updates, but they also emphasize that there will never be a Creative Suite 7. Adobe maintains that they have listened to their customers over the years, and that this change is the result of careful consideration of their customers’ demands.

There are a number of changes coming with the Creative Cloud. For starters, Adobe is eliminating material packaging altogether. This not only saves on production and shipping costs, but it also aligns the brand with “greener” technology. Additionally, it makes it more accessible — once you have a subscription, you can then download the programs onto any supported devices, which is an absolute necessity given the prominence of tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices in today’s world.

Further, Adobe is rebranding the former Creative Suite applications (or “CS”) as “CC” products. This includes Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, Dreamweaver CC, Premiere Pro CC, and InDesign CC. The programs are intended to be upgradable utilizing cloud technology: Once a customer has a subscription, they have access to updates as often as they are released, as long as the customer’s subscription is still active. This means that problems such as bugs or OS compatibility issues can be addressed as they come up, and updates will be released much more frequently. And of course, because this is all done through Creative Cloud, you won’t have to pay extra for hotfixes or upgrades.

The pricing models vary depending on your history with the company. For subscribers like myself, if you’ve purchased a CS 3 or later product, you can get the first year at $29.99 per month. Others who own earlier versions of the product can snag the complete version for $49.99 a month. Or you have the option to purchase a single-product license for $19.99 per month. For teams and companies who require special packages, Adobe has other options.

But what does all this mean for the brand? Well, for Adobe, this means regular revenue. Rather than the sporadic income they would receive with CS releases every year or two years, they now receive a monthly influx of revenue. This means they can spend more time addressing existing issues, developing better add-ons for the applications, and fighting the ongoing battle of software piracy.

And for Adobe users, this means they can have access to expensive software at a reasonable monthly rate. They’ll get better customer service and a better product in the long run due to regular maintenance. Another bonus? The more Adobe products you use, the better the deal becomes.

Obviously, I am a fan of this model. It’s green, it’s sleek and convenient, and for me, it’s a great investment. What do you think of Adobe’s changes?

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Announcing A New Late-Night Contender…Cap’n Crunch!

[Cross-Posted from Beneath the Brand].

Do you have a favorite cereal mascot from your childhood years? Growing up in the ’90s, I recall there being so many cereal mascots, so many jingles, and so many ways to tell adults that our cereal just wasn’t for them that it was nearly impossible to choose a favorite to represent our generation. We had Apple Jacks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix, and of course, Cap’n Crunch. While of course there are many others to bring up for nostalgia’s sake, there’s only one that I want to talk about right now, and that one is Cap’n Crunch.

I believe the last time I even thought about the Cap’n was when I swore he’d never lacerate the roof of my mouth with his dastardly crunch berries again (which, admittedly, was probably not all that long ago). But on April 23, the Cap’n himself took to Twitter and Facebook and made an announcement about some surprising new plans of his: He’s getting his own late-night talk show. Out with the old, and in with the new.

Of course you won’t see the Cap’n makin’ it happen in a lineup with the likes of Leno, Letterman, or Fallon. Instead, he’ll be showcasing his talents in an original YouTube series, The Cap’n Crunch Show.

The Cap’n Crunch Show is set to debut Tuesday, May 7 at 11:35 pm EDT, just like any other late-night programs. There will be a total of nine episodes, with a new one being made available every other Tuesday following the premiere. The content is directed at adults who have grown up with the cherished character, and is intended to be primarily tongue-in-cheek: the host will apparently discuss pop culture, social media, and interview animated celebrities from his giant cereal bowl with a little help from his pooch and first mate, Sea Dog.

In an effort to promote the mascot’s brand new image, Quaker has encouraged fans to interact with their host via social media. You can subscribe to his YouTube channelfollow him on Twitter, or like him on Facebook. Like many other brands, social media proves to be bolstering his campaign: He currently has about 270,000 likes on Facebook, and 14,200 followers on Twitter.

The brand’s new marketing strategy plays on adults’ nostalgia, creating a new bond between the character and the customer, and it springboards from popular social media platforms. It’s certainly an approach that has worked for other franchises that were popular in the past: think Transformers, My Little Pony, or even the new Kool-Aid manmakeover. Given that the ’90s revival theme is pretty popular right now, do you think the Cap’n will fit right in?

Netflix and Hasbro’s New Deal: A Solution to Kid-Targeted Advertising?

Cross-posted from [Beneath the Brand].

In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission made the decision to remove the limitations that had long been in place for children’s advertising — what kinds of commercials could be viewed during children’s programming, for example, or how many minutes per hour could be dedicated to advertising aimed at young kids — stating that the marketplace would determine what programming was best for children. Fast-forward nearly 30 years and there is still a dialogue going on about what actually is best for children.

Children’s advertising has been blamed in the UK last week for everything from rising rates of childhood obesity to excessive drug usage and teen pregnancy. In America, we’ve seen a similar correlation drawn between media consumption (particularly “superfluous” content such as advertisements) and childhood obesity.

Needless to say, people are nervous about — and perhaps even fed up with — the effects of aggressive advertising on younger children.

So what’s a brand to do without targeted advertising? Netflix thinks they might have the answer in a tactic that’s a little more… subversive.

Everyone knows why Netflix can, at times, be preferable to cable television — there are no advertisements; much of its content is on-demand, streaming media; and full seasons of shows are ready to be watched all on one lazy weekend afternoon, whenever and wherever you like. And they already had a large selection of kid’s media to choose from: in 2012 alone, over 12 billion hours of children’s content was streamed through the popular media hub.

As of April 11, Netflix announced that they were teaming up with Hasbro to offer even more streaming kids’ content, adding shows such as “Littlest Pet Shop” and “Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters.” They wanted to create an atmosphere where kids could stream content “unencumbered by aggressive advertisements or inappropriate material.”

But is it really uninhibited and “free” from advertising? With virtually unlimited hours of television right at their fingertips, children are easily able to cherry-pick what they deem most interesting to watch. Long gone are the days of waking up early on Saturday morning to catch a few hours of carefully packaged cartoons with the intermittent advertisement for Rock-Em-Sock-Em-Robots or a Skip It. Now, you can have whatever content you want, whenever you want it — as long as mom and dad still have a subscription to Netflix. And the shows certainly put activities and material items in them that kids will want to emulate or obtain for themselves.

So really, aren’t the brands themselves doing all the advertising? Hasbro is the classic staple for children’s entertainment, Netflix has become a monolith in on-demand entertainment, and your child can select their favorite shows with just the click of a button, learning of their desires through their favorite shows.

What do you think? Does this count as unwelcome advertising, or is Netflix on the right track?

Why Kay Jewelers Warms Our Hearts Every Christmas Season

[Cross-posted from Beyond Madison Ave.]

Every Christmas season, Kay Jewelers releases a commercial that is supposed to represent a moment of pure, unaltered bliss for women: After a year of hard work and playing the diligent wife, the go-getter at work, the dinner maker, the errand runner, and the all-around problem solver, she is rewarded with a beautiful piece of jewelry — what a prize! The woman smiles, thanks her loving family, and everyone is happy. Most importantly, she knows she is loved. In the next clip, she is wearing the jewelry, gives her husband or boyfriend a kiss, and the musical jingle plays as their lips touch: Every kiss begins with Kay.

Kay Jewelers has been making commercials for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas for years — and every one follows a variation of this formula. Each commercial ends with the beaming, grateful woman wearing the jewelry, and leaning in for the big kiss with her husband or boyfriend while the jingle begins to play. This is one of the most important parts of their brand’s image. The tune is simple, memorable, and short. While very few commercials use musical jingles anymore, Kay’s still works — which is precisely why they haven’t changed it for so many years. It has become such an integral part of the brand that people recognize the company from the moment they hear the first few notes.

Aside from the effective jingle, Kay Jewelers uses another method of appealing to their customers. By showing a husband or boyfriend engaging in a simple, loving gesture like giving his partner a heartfelt gift on Christmas, a tradition is born. Kay Jewelers takes care to show that beautiful gifts like gem-encrusted necklaces, diamond rings, and gold bracelets are affordable, even for families. It also shows that a woman will appreciate something selected from Kay. So of course, with everyone so pleased, it makes sense that it could also be a wonderful tradition for years to come.

Kay Jewelers also uses mini-stories to evoke our tender emotions. They carefully align the customers that use their products as protagonists. When a boyfriend or husband presents his personal gift from Kay, he believes he has given a priceless, timeless gift to the woman. And when she inevitably accepts it, she accepts not only the gorgeous jewelry, but also the gesture that comes with it. She accepts his love, and both parties feel good about the transaction. This makes us, as consumers, want to recreate that feeling for ourselves.

So by combining mini-narratives, holiday traditions, good feelings, and jingles, Kay Jewelers has created an unmistakable image for themselves that has transcended other competitors’ marketing techniques. Everyone knows what a Kay commercial is like, and hundreds of thousands of women receive gifts from their stores every Christmas. All of the time-tested advertising techniques I touched upon have made Kay the number one retailer of jewelry worldwide. The simplicity of their brand resonates with millions of normal folks who are looking to give or receive something special. Of course, there’s a whole other camp of people who avoid Kay Jewelers precisely because of these advertising elements, too — but that certainly won’t stop Kay Jewelers from releasing another commercial, or from changing their formula. Just wait until Valentine’s Day.